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Renowned poets and tireless poetry advocates Edward Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Kevin Young convene for an evening dedicated to the life and literary legacy of W.S. Merwin, concluding the “Memorial Series” of the Merwin Conservancy's popular Green Room arts and ecology salons.
Three of the evening’s guests are returning Green Room alumni: Edward Hirsch, poet, educator, and devoted poetry advocate spoke at the “90th Birthday Tribute to W.S. Merwin” edition of the Green Room in September 2017; Jane Hirshfield, poet and translator, was a Green Room presenter in 2016; Naomi Shihab Nye makes her third return to the Green Room, this time as the “Young People’s Poet Laureate,” appointed to the post in 2019 by the Poetry Foundation.
Joining these alumni in the Green Room for the first time is New Yorker poetry editor Kevin Young, who also directs the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and is widely considered one of the leading poets of his generation.
All four poets will read from their own work and will also read and reflect on selections from W.S. Merwin’s prolific career as a poet and translator in this evening held in his memory.
A 42-year Maui resident and fierce advocate for the environment, W.S. Merwin died on March 15th, 2019 at his home in Ha‘iku.
About Jane Hirshfield
Jane Hirshfield, described by The Washington Post as belonging “among the modern masters” and by The New York Times as “passionate and radiant,” addresses the urgent immediacies of our time. Her poems and essays traverse the crises of the biosphere and social justice, abiding in the intersections of facts and imagination, desire and loss, impermanence and beauty—all the dimensions of our existence within what one poem calls “the pure democracy of being.” Her nine poetry books include The Beauty, long-listed for the 2015 National Book Award; Given Sugar, Given Salt, a finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award; and After, short-listed for England’s T.S. Eliot Award and named a “best book of 2006” by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and England’s Financial Times. Hirshfield’s ninth poetry collection, Ledger, will appear from Knopf in March 2020. Hirshfield’s other honors include the Poetry Center Book Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. In fall 2004, Jane Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by the Academy of American Poets, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. In 2012, she was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In March 2019, she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Hirshfield has taught at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Duke University, Bennington College, and elsewhere.
About Edward Hirsch
Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. He was born in Chicago in 1950—his accent makes it impossible for him to hide his origins—and educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a PhD in folklore. His devotion to poetry is life-long. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, the Prix de Rome, and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award. In 2008, he was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Hirsch has published seven acclaimed books of poems and five book of prose. For the Sleepwalkers, a book of poetry published in 1981, received the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. His second collection of poems, Wild Gratitude (1986), won the National Book Critics Award. He taught for six years in the English Department at Wayne State University and seventeen years in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. He is now president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
About Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent over 40 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages. Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. Naomi Shihab Nye is author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes. Her books of poetry for adults and children include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (a finalist for the National Book Award), A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Red Suitcase, Words Under the Words, Fuel, Transfer, You & Yours (a best-selling poetry book of 2006), Mint Snowball, Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners, Come with Me: Poems for a Journey, and Honeybee (awarded the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category). Her newest book of poetry is The Tiny Journalist. Her next book will be Cast Away: Poems for Our Time (Greenwillow, February 2020). Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow and a Guggenheim Fellow. She has been affiliated with the Michener Center for writers at the University of Texas at Austin for 20 years and also poetry editor at The Texas Observer for 20 years. She is Chancellor Emeritus for the Academy of American Poets, and in 2019, she was named Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Nye is professor of creative writing and poetry at Texas State University.
About Kevin Young
Kevin Young is director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and is widely regarded as one of the leading poets of his generation. Young is also poetry editor at The New Yorker. Also an editor, essayist, and curator, Young has written eleven books of poetry, including Brown (2018), a New York Times Notable Book, Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (Knopf, 2016), and Jelly Roll: a blues (Knopf, 2003), which were both longlisted for the National Book Award (Jelly Roll was a finalist). Of Young’s collection, Book of Hours (Knopf, 2014), A. Van Jordan wrote: "As if walking through a gallery of grief, reverie, and transcendence, Kevin Young exemplifies what poetry can do in the world when language works at its full power. Young consistently surprises us with profound elegance." Actor and author Mary-Louise Parker has described the book as a memoir-in-verse and that "these glorious verses put me in some kind of trance." Named University Distinguished Professor at Emory University, Young was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016. His other honors include a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and an honorary doctorate from Beloit College. Kevin Young was named a Time Magazine 'Champion of Culture' of 2019.
Tickets: $25 & $10/special student price w/ID (plus applicable fees).